Natural Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

Many people are dealing with mental health issues right now, some of which may have been triggered or worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has brought about health concerns, isolation, and economic fears for many.

That’s compounded by the fact that millions of people in the U.S. already struggled with mental health before coronavirus.

There are things you can do to improve your mental health naturally, and you can start many of them right now.

Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

If you can reduce how much alcohol you drink, it can have profound positive effects on your mental health.

When you regularly drink alcohol, it alters your brain chemistry. Regular alcohol use reduces something in your brain called serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that plays a key role in depression. When your serotonin is depleted, you can find yourself in a negative cycle where you drink more to deal with symptoms of depression, and yet the alcohol makes you more depressed.

In general, alcohol is a depressant, so it can slow your entire central nervous system.

Alcohol can reduce your energy and your mood, it can affect your concentration, and it can impair the quality of your sleep.

Eat well

What you eat can have a tremendous impact, both positively and negatively, on your mental health. Your gut and your brain are intrinsically linked to one another, and they’re connected through your vagus nerve.

Some of the foods that can be beneficial for your mental health include:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids including DHA and EPA can help reduce symptoms of depression, ADHD, and other mental health disorders. This is thought to be because omega-3s help with the production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
  • Lean protein includes things like fish, chicken, eggs, and turkey and they can help balance serotonin levels and improve cognitive function.
  • Leafy greens such as spinach are high in B vitamins and folic acid, and deficiencies in these nutrients are associated with higher rates of insomnia, fatigue, and depression.
  • Yogurt with probiotics may help reduce anxiety and stress hormones by balancing out the levels of good bacteria in the gut.

Even when you eat well, you may have nutritional deficiencies because it’s challenging to eat a perfect diet. You might want to supplement it.

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is helpful to combat against depression, and an omega-3 supplement might also be useful, especially if you don’t eat a lot of fish or you don’t enjoy it.

Get Active

When you are active, you are likely to not only experience better physical health and a lower likelihood of chronic illnesses but also boost your mental health.

Exercise stimulates our endorphins as well as something called enkephalins, which are our body’s natural happy hormones. When we exercise it not only gives these chemicals a rise, but it can help stop negative thought patterns or take our mind off what we’re worried about at the moment.

There has been some research showing exercise is as good as current medications for conditions like mild-to-moderate depression, anxiety, and dementia.

When you regularly exercise, it can increase the volume of your brain in certain areas, and it can help make sure your brain is getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function optimally.

Take Care of Someone Else

Sometimes when we’re at a mental low point, it can be valuable to help another person to make ourselves feel mentally better.

It doesn’t have to be anything big, but perhaps sending someone you love a card or text to let them know you’re thinking about them, or baking cookies for a neighbor can pull you out of your own mental health slump.

Finally, stop setting unrealistic goals for yourself. Goals are good for mental health, but not when they’re unattainable. Set short-term goals that are challenging but achievable.

Also, remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing in your life. Progress is good, no matter how small it may seem. If you have an off day, it’s okay. Forgive yourself and move on to the next.

Your mental health is critical to your overall well-being, and even when you’re facing challenges like so many people are right now, you have to be proactive in caring for your mental health and your physical health. When you take care of your health holistically, you’re better equipped to handle challenges thrown your way.

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